Portsmouth’s civic and union leaders showed little concern over the announcement of Defence Secretary John Nott’s retirement from politics in the General Election the following year.
An officer of the Transport and General Workers Union, Tom Hibbard said Mr Nott’s term of office had been ‘a disaster’. The leader of the city council, John Marshall, said the minister had never appreciated the Royal Navy’s needs.
Both believed the news once again raised hopes for a reprieve for Portsmouth Dockyard and its 6,000 employees.
‘It is certainly not too late to save the ‘yard and this announcement must be taken as a determination for the pro-navy lobby to redouble its efforts,’ said Mr Marshall.
Mr Nott was expected to leave the post of defence secretary after Lord Franks’ Committee reported on the Falklands affair, giving Mrs Thatcher the chance of a wider cabinet reshuffle.
When he returned to the world of banking, thousands of dockyard workers could have been heading for the dole queue.
Mr Hibbard said, ‘People in power always seem to have something to fall back on but those in labour have nowhere to go.
‘But the main thing we are concerned with is the defence of the country. We will not be able to defend this country with the 42 ships Mr Nott has in mind.’